31 Jul 2019 13:20pm
WINDHOEK, 31 JUL (NAMPA) Former Minister of Education, Arts and Culture Katrina Hanse-Himarwa, who was convicted of corruption earlier this month, escaped a direct prison term when the High Court sentenced her to pay a fine of N.dollars 50 000 on Wednesday.
Hanse-Himarwa, 52, was sentenced to pay a fine of N.dollars 50 000 or serve a direct prison sentence of 24 months of which 12 months were suspended for a period of five years on condition that she is not found guilty of any offence of corruption or other related criminal offences during the period of suspension.
The former education minister was on 08 July 2019 found guilty of wrongly and corruptly abusing or using her position as the governor of the Hardap Region to make changes to the original list of mass housing beneficiaries for the benefit of two of her relatives in December 2014.
High Court Judge Christie Liebenberg, who presided over the corruption trial, handed down the sentence.
The offence of corruption is a serious offence against the rule of law. Hanse-Himarwa abused the power invested in her as the governor of the Hardap Region, he said.
He added that Hanse-Himarwas actions were politically motivated.
You were supposed to represent all the people residing in the Hardap Region, irrespective of their political party affiliations. The convict did not personally benefit from her wrongful actions. The convicted persons actions were just errors of judgement. Therefore, in this case, a prison sentence is not an option, said Judge Liebenberg when he sentenced Hanse-Himarwa to pay a fine instead of serving a prison sentence.
The former minister, through her privately-instructed defence lawyer Sisa Namandje, on 24 July 2019 in her pre-sentencing evidence pleaded with the court for mercy and asked that it not impose a direct prison punishment.
She instead asked that the court hand down a sentence in the form of a fine.
Hanse-Himarwa also apologised to the two victims, the court and the entire nation for her involvement in the corruption scandal.
However, Deputy Prosecutor-General Ed Marondedze wanted the court to send Hanse-Himarwa to prison because she lied before court when she denied being involved in the changing of names on the original list of beneficiaries of the mass housing project during December 2014 at Mariental.
It also came to light on 24 July 2019 that Hanse-Himarwa had incurred a bill of over N.dollars 1 million in legal fees for her representation by the Windhoek-based Sisa Namandje law firm.
She has now stepped down from her position as minister after her conviction on the charge of corruption.
The overwhelming totality of the evidence presented before court during trial showed that Hanse-Himarwa was indeed the person who, during her tenure as Hardap Governor, gave a directive that the original list of 19 mass housing beneficiaries be changed.
As per her directive, the names of Regina Kuhlman and Piet Fransman were then replaced with that of Christiana Lorraine Hanse and Justine Josephine Gowases.
According to evidence presented before court during trial, Hanse and Gowases are related to Hanse-Himarwa.